Travel with Carry-on Luggage: the Only Way to Fly

The only way to travel by air is with carry on luggage that fits under the seat or in the overhead bin.

When I was a child, my brother and I were each responsible for our own suitcase, a brown, vinyl ten-pound (empty!) monster with no wheels for carrying comfort.
Suitcases today are a marvel of engineering. Lightweight – under 5 lbs – with high-tech rolling wheels and in many cool designs to fit every style and budget. It’s got to be lightweight, and able to roll down a cobble-stone street without losing a single wheel!

Why Carry-on Luggage

The inconveniences, delays and security-checks of travelling today; the fear – both real and imagined – of checking your precious suitcase into the giant black hole of the baggage- handling basement at any airport and wondering if it will ever emerge into the light of day again; the time spent staring at the revolving baggage carousel; all of these factors combine to spell CARRY-ON.

The definition of a carry-on is a bag that will fit either under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. Airlines determine the acceptable sizes of carry-on bags, and you can easily find this information by visiting the airline’s web site before your trip. Most airlines today have strict weight and size restrictions for carry-on baggage, and these rules are subject to frequent changes.

Each traveller is allowed two pieces of carry-on baggage. One of these bags is usually a suitcase, the other can be a backpack, camera or video-camera bag, shoulder bag, or even a small collapsible stroller. I don’t count a woman’s purse in this, though be wary that airline check-in staff may, depending on the size of your purse!
[travellingmom tip: Choose a small, collapsible purse that fits within a larger backpack or shoulder bag. That way you carry your essential documents and necessities in a secure purse within a larger bag – two in one!]

Okay, some things you have to check

Of course, there are some travelling items that it’s impossible not to check-in: car seats, some strollers, bicycles, skis, etc.

While we’ve been very fortunate in never having lost any such checked-in items during our travels, it certainly happens. If it does happen, hopefully the bag and its contents are not so irreplaceable that they cannot be quickly replaced locally without negatively affecting your holiday plans. A successful packing and travelling strategy can ensure that this does   not happen, and that is to only travel with carry-on luggage.

Yes, even for a one month trip. And yes, even with your children.

Kids can carry-on too

A four to five-year old can carry (roll) their own suitcase with ease. Not for five miles mind you, but certainly within an airport or hotel. They can also carry and wear their own backpack, filled with specially-chosen toys, stuffies, and other goodies of their choosing.  (See    How to Pack Your Suitcase for tips and the Check List).

Children can also be encouraged, depending on their age and interest, to pack their own bags, with some help and guidance from you. Some careful editing on your part may be needed to make sure they don’t just pack a suitcase full of stuffies, but participating in this process can add to your child’s excitement in getting prepared for your trip.

Don’t Fannypack

Fannypacks are a no-no. Apart from looking like a total fashion fail, those small nylon bags clipped around your waist are a pickpockets dream. They love fanny packs because they’re easy to get into or just steal outright. Pickpockets are pros at distracting you and covering the fanny pack with a newspaper or some other item, while another of their group gets under the paper to empty the pack of its precious contents.

Photo Credit: Frankieleon, Flickr Commons

Do you carry-on when you travel by airplane, or do you prefer to check your bags?

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